In honor of this odd confluence of holidays — 30 Days of Dead, Chanukah, and Thanksgiving — I offer these thoughts on Jewish worship, text study and the Grateful Dead. It is not necessary to know anything about the (Grateful) Dead or to like them, musically or culturally, to explore this analogy. I’ve been told by fans and non-fans that it is helpful. I hope you enjoy and find it useful and welcome comments.
The material was originally shared at Temple Micah (DC) for Shabbat Shelach in 2011. Here’s the introduction from that dvar torah.
Not Just for Dead Fans
“How the Grateful Dead, Jewish Text and Worship Explain One Another and Raise Interesting Questions.”
It’s been hard to miss the quirky circumstance linking Thanksgiving with Chanukah. The Religious News Service, like a host of other sources, reports:
It last happened in 1888 and, according to one calculation, won’t happen again for another 77,798 years: the convergence of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah….
The quirk of Thanksgivukkah is that the Hebrew calendar, which follows the sun and the moon, and the Gregorian calendar, where Thanksgiving sits on the fourth Thursday of November, has aligned this year so that the two holidays are on the same day for the first time since 1888, 25 years after President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a holiday.
30 Days of Dead
It is likely less well-known that today is the 28th day of “30 Days of Dead.” November brings an annual opportunity to download free recordings, one each day of the grateful month, from the Grateful Dead’s unreleased vault. If you’re a Grateful Dead fan, you probably already know about this. If you’re not a Dead fan, this could be a great chance to find some music that might not be what you think. There’s a lot of variety.
Happy 28th Day of Dead/Thanksgivakkah
As part of NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month), a cousin of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), “A Song Every Day” plans thirty daily posts with some connection to the number 30.